Caution Suggested for Activities Identified with New Age

VATICAN CITY, FEB. 4, 2003 ( Favorite activities among New Agers include protecting the environment and listening to relaxing music. Are these compatible with the Christian faith?

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Archbishop Michael Fitzgerald, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, gave a qualified answer to that question at a press conference Monday. He pointing to a key criterion: “discernment.”

“There can be positive New Age practices, so long as they do not cast doubt on Catholic doctrine,” he said.

His comment came as a Vatican document on New Age was presented to the press.

The archbishop acknowledged that “there is nothing wrong in listening to relaxing music, for example, unless it is a substitute for prayer.”

“To be concerned about ecology is positive,” but without falling into the divinization of the earth, he added.

Reporters asked about the enneagram, a New Age-type method of analyzing personality in nine types.

Father Peter Fleetwood of the Secretariat of the Council of European Episcopal Conferences (CCEE), writer of the document “Jesus Christ the Bearer of the Water of Life: A Christian Reflection on the ‘New Age,'” answered that the enneagram is not to be condemned but must say whether it allows for a God who transcends reality.

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